The Maltese Falcon - This is a classic and many people like it but I just could not get into the movie.
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(2 out of 5 stars)
"I would wait for the two disc release ( if it ever arrives ) of Maltese Falcon, and Big Sleep.Maltese Falcon was sloppily restored, and is missing the tail end of the scene during which Bogart was threatened by Lorre, in Bogart's own office. I do not know why the scene was deleted, but it came as a surprise!"
Here's looking at you, kid ...
Themis-Athena | from somewhere between California and Germany | 02/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Aaaahhh ... Bogey. AFI's No. 1 film star of the 20th century. Hollywood's original noir anti-hero, epitome of the handsome, cynical and oh-so lonesome wolf (in this set alone, playing the Top 4 [Rick Blaine] and Top 32 [Philip Marlowe] guys on the AFI's 20th century Top 50 film heroes list); looking unbeatably cool in his fedora, a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. Endowed with a legendary aura several times larger than his real life stature, and still admired by scores of women wishing they had been born 50+ years earlier, preferably somewhere in California and to parents connected with the movie business, so as to have at least a marginal chance of meeting him.
This set contains four of Bogart's greatest successes; three of them ("The Maltese Falcon," "Casablanca" and "The Big Sleep") career-defining moments for both him and his female costars - now all of them Hollywood legends in their own right. Yet, looking at these movies' and their stars' almost mythical fame ("Casablanca," on the AFI list of Top 100 20th century movies second only to "Citizen Kane," and at No. 23 "The Maltese Falcon" not too far behind) it is difficult to imagine that, produced at the height of the studio system era, each of them was originally just one of the roughly 50 movies released over the course of one year. But mass production didn't equal low quality; on the contrary, the great care given to all production values, from script-writing to camera work, editing, score and the stars' presentation in the movies themselves and in their trailers, was at least partly responsible for their lasting success. So, the release of "The Big Sleep" was delayed for a year not only because its first version was completed around the end of WWII and Warner Brothers wanted to get their still-unreleased war movies into theaters first, but also, significantly, because Bacall's agent convinced director Howard Hawks to reshoot several scenes to better highlight the sassy, mysterious new star 19-year-old Bacall had become after her first movie with Bogart, the 1943 realization of Ernest Hemingway's "To Have and Have Not" (likewise directed by Hawks and scripted by William Faulkner and Jules Furthman; conversely to "The Big Sleep," however, without any input from Leigh Brackett). And even more famously, the screenplay for "Casablanca" was constantly rewritten even throughout the filming process, to the point that particularly Ingrid Bergman was extremely worried because she was unsure whether at the end she (Ilsa) would leave Casablanca with Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) or stay there with Rick (Bogart).
"The Maltese Falcon" (1941), directed by John Huston and based on Dashiell Hammett's 1930 like-named novel, transformed Bogart's on-screen persona from the tough, often two-dimensional gangsters he had portrayed before (beginning with the 1936 adaptation of Robert Sherwood's "Petrified Forest" where, like in its 1934 stage production, Bogart had starred opposite Leslie Howard, with Bette Davis as the female lead). Imbuing his tough guy shell with a softer core, Bogart instantly became Hammett's Sam Spade and, moreover, the film noir anti-hero per se; a role that stayed with him throughout the rest of his career, and in which he still remains virtually unparalleled. Also contributing to the movie's success were Bogart's outstanding costars; first and foremost Mary Astor as the double-crossing Brigid O'Shaughnessy and Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet in one of several appearances opposite Bogart as Astor's competitors for possession of the Maltese Knights' mysterious, immensely precious gift to Emperor Charles V.
"Casablanca" (1942), directed by Michael Curtiz, was based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's play "Everybody Comes to Rick's," but renamed by the studio which wanted to tag onto the success of its 1938 hit "Algiers" (starring Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr). Further expanding Bogart's increasingly complex on-screen personality, it added a romantic quality which had heretofore been missing (eventually making this the AFI's Top 20th century love story, even before the No. 2 "Gone With the Wind"), with a unique, inimitable blend of drama, passion, humor, exotic North African atmosphere, patriotism, unforgettable score (courtesy of "As Time Goes By," Max Steiner and Louis Kaufman's violin) and an all-star cast, consisting besides Bogart, Bergman and Henreid of Claude Rains (Captain Renault), Dooley Wilson (who, a drummer by trade, had to fake his piano playing as Rick's friend Sam), Conrad Veidt (Major Strasser) and again Sydney Greenstreet (Ferrari) and Peter Lorre (Ugarte). And the movie's countless famous one-liners have long attained legendary status in their own right ...
"The Big Sleep" reprised Bogart's noir gumshoe role, this time based on Raymond Chandler's first (1939) Philip Marlowe novel. Despite the stellar caliber of its screen writers, the movie is as infamous as Chandler's book for its labyrinthine plot, which reportedly even Chandler himself couldn't completely untangle (nor did he care to). Both on and off screen it solidified the chemistry between Bogart and Bacall, who married before its 1946 release, and firmly established then-22-year-old Lauren Bacall as one of Hollywood's new leading ladies.
"Key Largo" (1948) finally, directed by John Huston, was Bogart and Bacall's last on-screen collaboration and also constituted a reversal of roles between Bogart and Edward G. Robinson, opposite whom Bogart had appeared in 1930s movies like "Bullets or Ballots," "Kid Galahad," and "Brother Orchid:" Whereas there the complexer parts had been Robinson's (while Bogart's characters had had little or no redeeming qualities whatsoever), now it was Bogey who, world-weary and reluctant, got to face up to Robinson's ruthless gangster Johnny Rocco in the sultry setting of the Florida Keys under the onslaught of a hurricane; with great supporting performances by Lionel Barrymore as Bacall's father-in-law and Claire Trevor as Rocco's disillusioned, alcoholic lover.
Final note: There is a 2-disc edition of "Casablanca" with more extras than the 1-disc edition included here, which fans will definitely want to get. However, this edition is still worth the purchase for the remaining three movies alone, which individually cost more than the *four* movies contained herein together.
Also recommended: Algiers Notorious - Criterion Collection Humphrey Bogart - The Signature Collection, Vol. 1 (Casablanca Two-Disc Special Edition / The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Two-Disc Special Edition / They Drive by Night / High Sierra) Humphrey Bogart - The Signature Collection, Vol. 2 (The Maltese Falcon Three-Disc Special Edition / Across the Pacific / Action in the North Atlantic / All Through the Night / Passage to Marseille) Bogie and Bacall - The Signature Collection (The Big Sleep / Dark Passage / Key Largo / To Have and Have Not) Complete Novels: Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key, and The Thin Man (Library of America #110) Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels: Pulp Stories / The Big Sleep / Farewell, My Lovely / The High Window (Library of America) Brother Orchid Bullets or Ballots Chinatown (Special Collector's Edition)"
Excellent Boxed Set of Classic Bogart
Douglas E. Raineault | Ithaca, NY | 01/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This boxed set contains four great classic movies. It is a perfect choice for any fan of Humphrey Bogart or classic films. Each movie is well rendered onto DVD and contains a great selection of special features often lacking on older movies. It goes without saying that these are excellent films. The movies, especially Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon, have been absorbed into the American national culture and references to them are seen everywhere from modern movies and books to Bugs Bunny cartoons. Bogart is great as a tough but three dimensional character. The supporting actors including Peter Lorre, Lauren Bacall, Sidney Greenstreet, Ingrid Bergman and Mary Astor are likewise interesting. This box set is a necessity for anyone who loves old movies."
L. Carnes | Colorado, USA | 05/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a GREAT collection! Casablanca's the trademark Bogart movie and one of the top five film classics for all time. Bogie and Bacall team together in the "Key Largo" and the "Big Sleep". The "Maltese Falcon" is a fine addition to round the set out. After all, it was suspense film about "..the thing that dreams are made of". If your shelf has room for two more Bogart favorites, I'd suggest "To Have and Have Not", Bacall's first film performance and "Treasure of the Sierra Madres", directed by John Huston."
Great films, disappointing package
neoninfusion | Sydney, NSW Australia | 01/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I just had to have this box set. Apart from missing "The African Queen", it contains Bogart's four other classics for $5 each (I bought this when it was $19.95). The value for money is extraordinary. I'm not going to lavish praises on each of these films as we all know they are classic movies. As for the package, I was suprised at a few things:
1) The cases are not typical DVD cases. Most box sets have the usual cases that insert into the box, but these cases are thinner and not entirely plastic. Imagine the part of a DVD case that the disc sits in, then wrap cardboard around it which clips into the plastic where a normal case would. So, each movie has basically a cardboard front with a plastic back. The box is therefore thinner than a typical 4 DVD box set (its about 3 1/2 discs in width, so you couldn't buy blank cases and insert them). I'm a little disappointed.
2) On a brighter note, you get two versions of "The Big Sleep": the 1946 theatrical version with reshot scenes; and the 1945 prerelease version which has a 'plot and resolution ... more linear in fashion'.
3) There is no booklet which would have any information about the movies, actors, directors, etc. Each movie does have its own special features:
Key Largo - production notes, trailers, subtitles.
The Big Sleep - documentary comparing the two versions plus the same features as above.
Casablanca - 'You Must Remember This' documentary featuring outakes and hosted by Lauren Bacall plus the same features as Key Largo.
Maltese Falcon - documentary of Bogart's career through his Warner Bros trailers, an essay on the history of mystery and the same features as Key Largo.
Overall, these are my four favorite Bogart films and I'm exstatic to have found them in one box. I've subtracted one star for the disappointing box. "